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Landscaping with amaryllis


The bold colors, large trumpet-shaped blooms and leafy foliage make amaryllis a good choice for outdoor flower beds, borders and splashes of spot color. They're eye catching and easy to care for, too.

In the spring, both single and double amaryllis blooms appear on two- to three-foot stalks in a vast color palette. The flowers often are bold red, bright pink and orange. Other varieties feature subdued shades of rose, salmon and white. Want even more variety? Choose a striped or multi-colored amaryllis for added effect.

The blooms may get all of the attention, but the long narrow amaryllis leaves are attractive landscape elements, as well.

Planting the bulbs

Amaryllis bulbs are native to tropical and subtropical areas of the Americas. When planted outdoors, they do best in warm and frost-free conditions. In the United States, that generally means climate zones 8 to 11.

Plant new amaryllis bulbs between September and January. Transplant older bulbs in the fall after the foliage turns yellow and begins withering.

Amaryllis thrive in mostly sunny areas with some shade. They require fertilized soil and good drainage. Build a raised bed to improve drainage, if necessary.

Decide if the bulbs will be planted in rows or more natural clusters. Plant them 12 to 15 inches apart, so the neck of the bulb protrudes above the ground. Until the plants are established, keep newly planted amaryllis bulbs moist, but don't overwater.

Bulbs may be left in the ground for several years or dug and reset every September or October. While you don't need to dig, separate and replant them annually for more uniform flowering and larger blooms.

The amaryllis outdoor growing season is March through September. Keep the soil moist and apply two or three light applications of fertilizer. Amaryllis responds best to low nitrogen fertilizers. A bulb-booster fertilizer also can be used.

After the flowers fade

Once the flowers on a stalk wither, cut the stalk back to two inches from the ground. Don't disturb the foliage because it produces the food for next year's flowers.

Remove the wilted blooms. If dead amaryllis flowers go to seed, it can greatly diminish next season's flowers.

Amaryllis plants are prone to red blotch, also known as leaf scorch disease. It appears as red spots on leaves, flower stems and flowers. Leaves or stems may be deformed. Bulbs may have large, red blotches that rot easily. Before planting, spray or dust bulbs with an appropriate fungicide. If red blotch occurs during the growing season, spray plants every 10 days.

Failure to bloom

Several factors can cause an amaryllis not to bloom. All of them are relatively easy to remedy.

Prematurely digging bulbs when the leaves haven't yellowed and withered can prevent blooming. Poor drainage inhibits flowering. Amaryllis love sunshine, so too much shade makes it less hardy. The plant may produce more leaves instead of flowers when the soil is too rich, or too much nitrogen fertilizer or water is applied.


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